Looking for a new job is not particularly fun. It takes a very long time – sometimes as much as a year or longer – and it is practically a job of its own, except that it doesn’t give you a paycheck! You have probably spent hours and hours refining your resume, searching through job listings, and writing carefully drafted cover letters for each job you apply for. Hopefully you are also putting in the time to network with people you know and meet other people that can help you with your career. Either way, you have probably expended a lot of time and energy on the job search.
If you have managed to land an interview, then you are doing well and are probably excited. Getting the interview is often the hardest part – it means someone received your application, reviewed your resume, and invited you to come into the office. It means they want to meet you, see if you are a good fit, and find out what you are like face-to-face. Your interview is the final hurdle to the job, so you need to take it very seriously. In addition to spending the time to prepare for the questions, you should also put in the time to pick out and wear a great outfit.
What you wear to the interview is sometimes just as important as what you say. You have probably heard before that first impressions are very important, and this applies with full force to job interviews. The first impression you make is going to be largely based on your outfit, so make it a good one. If you show up looking sloppy or messy, you will have a lot of trouble convincing your prospective employer that you are a consummate professional. But if you come in, dressed sharply, and acting confidently, your interviewer will be able to listen to what you have to say instead of critiquing your presentation in his or her head. Your outfit can make or break your chances of landing the job so follow the below guiding principles when you’re picking out your outfit for your next job interview.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This is a common refrain when people talk about what to wear to work, but it is even truer when used in the context of the outfit you were for the interview. To determine what to wear, find out what the industry standard is for the office you are going to and dress one degree more professionally. If you are going to an office where most people wear jeans, for example, don’t wear jeans, but don’t wear a suit either. Wear slacks and a button down if you’re a man, or a tailored dress if you’re a woman.
- If you’re wearing a suit, make it a good one. Not every job interview will require a suit. However, if you are interviewing in a suit – if you are an attorney or a banker you should be – make sure that it is a nice suit that has been professionally tailored. A custom made suit is not necessary, but if you have one, wear it. The important thing is to look polished and professional, and a cheap suit will not achieve either of those things.
- Dress specifically for the industry you’re in. Every industry is different for what it considers office appropriate attire, so make sure you find out what is appropriate for the specific office you are going to. For example, at a law firm, suits are standard. But at a fashion magazine, a standard grey suit would stand out like a sore thumb. So do some research to find out what is normal office wear at the type of job you are interviewing for and dress accordingly.
If you’re having trouble finding the right job interview outfit, you should consult with a salesperson at a nice department store. He or she will be happy to help you find the right outfit. Going into the job interview with the right outfit will also increase your confidence – and confidence at a job interview is very important!
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